It improves on the original, but loses something in the translation
Graphics went up to 800x600. Quests were easier to follow and track. You practically start out fighting. Some new character classes and abilities. You got to start out at a higher level, with more abilities to play with. The story was still engrossing, the music was still good, and there are still characters to pick up along the way - each with his/her own goals.
You get to play truly *evil* parties, and it isn't impossible! In fact, Vicconia actually *likes* you this way... .
The entire series seems to suffer from ADD (Attention Deficeit Disorder). You simply cannot complete one quest without being offered four or five more along the way.
Another thing this series of games suffers from is mage-overkill. At the end of every quest there's a spell caster with some spell which is going to make your life miserable.
I found the graphics to be distracting. They were sharper and clearer, but something about them just didn't work for me. Maybe it was too many of the same hue.
Magic items seemed to abound in this game. Arguably, that's the way it should be for higher-level games, but other than my party and the people we were trying to kill, everyone was low-level. If Bob the salesman had +4 armor and weapons, why wouldn't he be out adventuring?
The Bottom Line
Overall, it's a good game. It will probably go down as one of the greats, but for me, it was too much. Part of that may be because I played the original, then immediately started playing this one.
Still, it's challenging (in a good way), and the story is really good. Just stay away from some unnecessary side quests and you should be OK.